MO puts an end to prisoners use of penpal websites

Inmates have solicited thousands of dollars from the public by making appeals on penpal sites. While they can still write letters, they are now banned from websites.

The ability to communicate to millions of people over the Internet was not what Missouri's Department of Corrections had in mind when the allowed inmates to write letters to people on the outside. But that's just what some inmates are doing, forcing the department to ban offenders from soliciting penpals on the Internet, reports the Missouri News Tribune.

Some Missouri inmates have put up Web postings and photos to solicit thousands of dollars from individuals and to defraud the public, a review of Missouri prisons showed. As result, Corrections Director Larry Crawford has announced the department will ban offenders from soliciting penpals on the Internet.

Prisoners will still be able to write to people on the outside. Inmates are reminded that it is their responsibility to remove their names if they are penpal website members. Failure to do so, or future efforts to post ads, will result in punishment.

"They can apply for these Web sites by mail and we believe it is either their family or friends who are posting on the Web site," said Corrections Spokesman Brian Hauswirth. "In some cases, the pictures put up are not actually of the inmates."

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